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Reno Works participants practice interviews, learn job skills


Between two to three times a year, Reno Works hosts a 12-week program that aims at helping people who are experiencing homelessness find work. 

The current session is in its sixth week and organizers hope to get all of those enrolled in the program – the 15th batch of participants – employed by the end of the 12 weeks. So far, the program has a success rate of 72% of graduates maintaining long-term employment. 

“Reno Works started in 2015 as a partnership between Volunteers of America and the City of Reno,” said Hettie Read from the City of Reno. “The mission was to give folks experiencing homelessness some on-the-job experience and also help them get sustainable employment that would help them exit homelessness and also help folks find housing that they could afford once they are employed.”

Each group has 12 participants and focuses on soft employment skills such as interviewing and writing resumes so they can be successful while searching for employment. The program also helps participants in getting important items such as clothes for the interviews and phones to be able to communicate with their future employer. 

During the course of the program, participants work with the city’s public works crews on local projects to get onsite experience where they are paid for their work. The program is structured to tailor the experience to each participant depending on their needs and experience. 

“The staff member is excellent with communication. We work three days a week and we do life skills two days a week,” said one of the participants of the program. “They are very flexible. If I have an appointment or anything I need to go to they are very flexible on that.”

Reno City Council member Kathleen Taylor.
Reno City Council member Kathleen Taylor.

During the session on Tuesday, Reno City Council member Kathleen Taylor was there to help with the mock interviews and meet with the participants. 

“I’m here today because this program is very dear to my heart,” Taylor said. “Anything we can do to work with our community to elevate them and to get them to a place that makes them more integrated into the community is very important to me. It’s such an amazing experience to watch people walk into this program and then elevate themselves to a totally different place when they leave.”

Other groups who were present on Tuesday were the City of Reno, the Washoe County School District, Applied Companies and the Reno Ambassadors. 

“I think as a community we all go through hard times and challenges especially within the last three or four years. I see people who really deserve a second chance and this is a great opportunity for them to take advantage of that and get to the place where they want to be in life,” Taylor said. “Nobody wants to be unsheltered for the most part. Everyone wants a job and to be able to be a part of that really just warms my heart.” 

Mark Hernandez
Mark Hernandez
Mark was born in Mexico, grew up in Carson City, and has recently returned to Reno to continue to explore and get to know the city again. He got his journalism degree in 2018 and wants to continue learning photography for both business and pleasure. Languages and history are topics he likes to discuss as well as deplete any coffee reservoirs in close proximity.